User:Nikau/Processed food

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They say you are what you eat. So what exactly do people like pirates and astronauts eat to make them so awesome?

The answer, my friend, is processed food.

When legs were wood, hands were hooks and merchant vessels were absolutely fucked, there was exactly one choice on the menu. Hard-tack. Little more than flour and salt, this was the badass ex-con grandfather of modern processed foods. Screw fresh fruit, this was all the fuel those privateers needed to loot so much gold it would make Fort Knox look like a piggy bank.

Shift forward a few centuries and, with the benefits of science, we can now liquify, inject full of proteins and fire that hard-tack into space for the few suited bastards that currently orbit the planet at 7.8 km/s.

So, if processed food is good enough for the best that has ever popped out from between the legs of a mother, why isn't it good enough for you?

Unfinished junk beyond this point.

Today you are always hearing about the pros and cons of renewable and non-renewable sources of energy and their impact on planet Earth. However in our opinion planet Earth can shut the fuck up, because humans have only ever had exactly one source of energy, food, and the only pros and cons we dealt with for thousands of years was how fast the animal could run and how closely the vegetable resembled a dick.

Yes, Mother nature may be crying about our coal plants and petrol driven cars now, but we bet Gaia was laughing like a hyena when she gave the tastiest fresh foods the athletic ability of Usain Bolt or placed them at the top of the highest tree in the forest.

Of course money doesn't grow on trees, so the human development of specialization and, later, capitalism must have made nature's millennia long laughing fit come to a spluttering halt.

Preservatives

We see your amusing bowl of fruit and raise you food spoilage. Within a week you will need to call the cast of Aliens to battle whatever comes out of the bacterial colonies growing on your salad, and don't act surprised if your bowl of fruit starts trying to attach itself to your face if you leave it at the back of the fridge too long.

Yes, it appears every disease you hear about during a sex education class and their grandmother enjoys chowing down on fresh food, too. Humans didn't fight their way to the top of the food chain to be killed by a cucumber being piloted by some E.coli.

Let me introduce two of the baddest motherfuckers on the periodic table, sodium and chloride. Kicking pathogens in the balls is just a good bonding activity for the pair of them, because the day nature starts allowing bacterial growth on foodstuffs is the day osmotic pressure starts kicking bacterial growth off foodstuffs.

The addition of salt to meat creates a solute-rich environment for microorganisms, which is kind of like saying you created a water-rich environment for your pet turtle when you flushed it down the toilet, except instead of potentially creating a zany team of reptiles, salt creates a pile of non-zany, dehydrated pathogen corpses. After winning the unthinkably-light weight champion of the world belt a billion times over, sodium chloride still has the heroic presence of mind to save the lipids in the meat from certain decomposition at the hands of a presumably goateed oxidation process.

Ancient people knew that the best preservative was gladiatorial combat at a molecular level. In fact, the word salary comes from the money given to Roman legions to buy salt, because it was totally expected that the soldiers would burn through a whole pay check salting the living hell out of anything that moved within a given radius. Rome was already throwing barrels of wine at the Hallstatt Celts faster than Donkey Kong in exchange for salted meats, so the whole salarium thing was basically just applying a second coat to a lump of meat that could pass as a salt shaker in its own right. We guess saving Rome from barbarian hordes probably took upon more importance when what you were eating could outlast the Empire.

So your knowledge of chemistry starts and ends at buying a season of Breaking Bad on DVD, not to worry. Type potassium nitrate into Google. You're now on some form of terrorist watch list, because it is totally saltpetre, otherwise known as the main ingredient in gunpowder. Processed meats are now preserved with so much of the stuff that you could probably take down Blackbeard with a decent stick of salami.

Maybe you think your stomach shouldn't be able to fire cannon balls, well how about a visit from our little friend botulism. Botulism lists its hobbies as being more toxic than a king cobra and a box jellyfish riding a tandem bicycle made of anthrax. Oh, that and basically being killed, given a funeral service and a heartfelt obituary in the local paper by nitrate additives. In other words, preservatives are the pump action shotgun in foods that prevent you dying in a manner that would make a zombie film call bullshit.

And these are but two of the 92 naturally occurring offspring of the neutron, proton and electron ménage à trois.

Tulas
And our childhood nightmares ended at eating broccoli.

Additives

Vegetarianism usually gets the short end of the shortest stick in dwarf town, but that is mostly because no-one has told the public the dietary choice means you are still able to literally eat a whole goddamn forest. If meat is murder, then cellulose is property destruction on a grand scale, because cellulose is the scientific term for we totally chopped down a virgin forest and turned it into wood pulp.

Getting wood is the perfect thing for adding fibre to foods as varied as cheese and meat. We know neither of those things naturally feature fibre, a plant product, because they are too busy being totally full of fats. If every one of the promises, poorly written personal anecdotes and stock photos of doctors smiling nervously in spam emails about weight loss were blended into a single shake, that shake still wouldn't be as good as cellulose, an ingredient that can replace up to 50% of fats in some foods. If the food industry was given free reign, humanity could basically weigh half what it does now, hell the before photos in the diet ads would be like supermodels crying they couldn't be made out of weapons grade sex.

And that isn't even the best thing cellulose does. You know how icecream tends to be creamy and not hard enough to sink Titanics, like regular ice? If you want to say thank-you, just hug a tree.

History

Food was processed for the first time during WWII, as a means of prolonging supplies on the front, and also as a special treat for the heroic troops who were fed up of eating sauerkraut, blutwurst and lederhosen. Although the procedures were primitive by today's standards, rarely consisting of more than putting things in aluminium cans, they were an instant hit with the pawns. Young men were lining around the block to enlist for the dual honour of serving their country and tucking into a delicious ham-stick. It was a rite of passage. You're not a man until you've faced your enemy in battle, or at the very least eaten a hamburger-in-a-can. Many of those brave young lads are now enjoying the best tinned meats Heaven has to offer.

When the war ended, the food industry realised the financial potential of processed food. It had several advantages over "normal" food in that it was cheaper to make, cheaper to buy, lasted longer and tasted delicious. Products like creamed-crab and powdered-mayonnaise are still popular today, whereas others, such as fish-sticks and spray-cheese, weren't so successful and seem bizarre to modern consumers now.

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